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Purpose, Stating It


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After many drafts and much thought, I've polished off another final version of my SoP, but I'm getting discordant advice on the length and specificity of the statement devoted to research interests. Any rules of thumb on how much of the 1000 words most places grant I should allocate to my neophytic thoughts on a scholarly agenda? Between the brief "grab" opener, sufficient background to explain my return to academia from the workforce, and some show-not-tell of why I'll be a good addition to the program and a productive scholar (in the "what i've done since I first walked on water" section), there's not an abundance of room left. More importantly, as others have noted, I hope that my research interests will be further developed by grad school--if I could do it without the degree, I probably would.

FWIW, I'm a lawyer with law & courts interest (shock!) hoping to study low-hanging judicial behavior fruit (e.g. lower courts and the margins of Supreme Court action).

Thanks in advance.

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It's hard to tell, but I did it like this:

Paragraph 1: "Why this thing I want to research is totally awesome and interesting!"

Paragraph 2: "How I want to research it and what this has to do with your program."

Paragraph 3: "Why I am totally qualified to do this."

Paragraph 4: "No, really. I even did some research in the area!"

Paragraph 5: "Your school is awesome and I want to be there!"

So, basically, one paragraph (about 100-120 words out of ~550) detailing my research plans, but in pretty general terms. After all, I expect, and so do adcomms, my research interests to evolve after 4 semesters of coursework.

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I spent a good hunk more than 120 words on mine. I'm a lawyer-type, too, but I don't wish to study anything similar to law, so I wanted to establish (hopefully) that I know what I'm talking about.

Also, considering that I spent a lot of time studying BA corps and writing settlement agreements, I'm afraid my walk-on-water is less Jesus and more lots of orange arm-floaties.

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